What’s the Difference Between Interstate and Intrastate Moves?

In short –

Interstate moves are those in which your old and new homes are in different states
On intrastate moves, they’re within the same state

Did You Know?

In-state moves where the distance between residences is less than 40 or 50 miles are generally considered local moves.

What’s the Big Deal?

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to make the distinction between interstate and intrastate moves.

In addition, there are four distinct types of regulation that often get confused –

Don’t forget to ask your potential mover these questions.

Look at our list of reputable interstate movers if you haven’t found the right one for you yet. You can also get ballpark moving estimates!

Safety Regulation

Depending on whether you’re moving in-state or out of state, your moving company will be subject to different safety regulations from either national or state agencies.

Moving companies engaged in interstate commerce are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

On the other hand, movers that perform in-state moves generally fall under regulations set forth by the state’s Department of Transportation, or in some cases (like Pennsylvania) the Public Utilities Commission.

All Interstate movers and some intrastate movers are required to have a DOT number.

Intrastate movers may alternately have a state-issued MC number, though many moving companies have one of each since they offer both interstate and intrastate moving services.

Price and Service Regulation

In some states moving companies are free to set their own prices, though they may be required to file a mover’s tariff.

However, in places like Pennsylvania and California, state regulatory agencies dictate what rates they charge for both local and intrastate moves.

In some instances, companies can file petitions to change their rates, but in others, they can’t – which means all customers pay the same price.

Did You Know?

Though most local move charges are based on an hourly rate plus additional services like packing and storage, the charges for long-distance intrastate moves are often based on the weight of your shipment and the mileage between your old and new homes.

Company and Vehicle Insurance Regulation

It’s the responsibility of each moving company to make sure their company and vehicle insurance is adequate and up to date.

But don’t just take their word for it.

During the vetting process, using the FMCSA’s SAFER System website is a great way to make sure each company you’re considering is safe and reputable.

It’s fast, easy, and free and will allow you to see –

  • If they’ve given you a legitimate DOT or MC number (some shady movers give fake ones)
  • The status of their insurance
  • Their highway safety rating
  • Whether they’re a mover or a broker
  • If they’re in good standing or have been placed ‘Out of Service’

How to Check a USDOT Number

Moving Insurance (Valuation) Regulation

Not to be confused with other types of insurance, moving insurance – called valuation – is the coverage offered by movers for loss and damage that may occur on a move.

On interstate moves, movers are required to offer two coverage options –

  • Released-value protection of .60 cents per pound per item (free)
  • Full-value replacement coverage with different deductible options (costs extra)

On intrastate moves most companies offer –

  • Released-value protection that may be as low as .30 cents per pound per item
  • Full-value replacement coverage with multiple deductible options

Again, interstate move valuation is federally regulated, whereas intrastate valuation is often regulated by the state.

Crossing State Lines on an Intrastate Move

On some intrastate moves, the shortest route between your old and new homes may lead through other states.

For example, if you’re moving from Oakland, Maryland to Annapolis, Maryland, the most direct route is through both West Virginia and Virginia.

Though instances like this are rare, you’ll want to ask each company –

  • What route they’ll take
  • How they’ll calculate mileage
  • Whether they’re licenses and insurance allow them to travel into neighboring states

Even in a case like this, it’s still an intrastate move since both the origin and destination are in Maryland.

Ultimately, it’s up to the mover which route they take.

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